Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Kansas Day!

Today is Kansas Day here - marking the anniversary of our state entering into statehood.

It has always been very easy for me to remember how old the State of Kansas is, as it entered the Union as a Free State on January 29, 1861. I was born 100 years later in 1961. So I always know our state is [my age this year] + 100 years! Today, Kansas is 148 years old!

(which, I should add, is not far off from the age of my house!)

The name Kansas is from the Native American tribe Kansa and we were always taught in grade school that this meant "people of the south wind." You can truly understand that designation if you have lived in Kansas for very long! We are known for our gusty winds!

In the next few days I may post about our huge project last weekend (which turned my weekend into a five-day work weekend!) We had to do some major reconstruction of our sewer system and bathroom -- which was actually a project we planned for this coming spring, but not for this freezing time of year!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Cage Contest

Back in November, I promised you this post, and you will see shortly why it took so long.

Steven and I have known for some time that we are wanting to sometimes take some My Cagepoultry to auction, or buy some from auction. However, the poultry auction in our local small Amish town of Yoder is a "bring your own cage" event. Meaning, if you have any you wish to buy, or any you want to sell, you must bring something to carry them in.

Now, we had some old cages - a rabbit cage, a dog crate, etc. But (having some background in marketing), I knew we have nothing that would really show a beautiful rooster at full height and beauty -- an important point when selling! And we didn't think there would be a need to spend funds to purchase a commercially made cage. I had in mind exactly the type of cage I thought I could whip together quickly that would work and do what is needed (allow for full height, allow the bird to be seen from all sides and allow plenty of light). Steven had his own idea of how a cage should be built (multi-purpose, made to last, unique).

Steven's Cage
So rather than debate on how to build a cage, I proposed a "cage contest" on Veterans Day (November 11) because that was my day off. We would each build a cage (because at the time we planned to take birds to the auction in late November).

Steven came up with all sorts of new rules for this contest: No power tools; Must not buy anything to build it, but use only what we can find around the farm already, etc. A real challenge!
Detail of Steven's
Nothing shows our personality differences more than this cage contest does. I am a real "time equals money" type of person. If I can make it efficiently and effectively in a short period of time, aesthetics have little value to me. Steven is as amazing perfectionist/engineering type that treats every new challenge as a way to broaden his skills and make a statement about his own ideology and values. Make it different than everyone else - make it to last - make it with your own hands, etc.

My cage of chicken wire was done in four hours on that day -- using scrap lumber, stray nails/screws and chicken wire. It will hold a bird.
Cage Back
Steven's is an engineering marvel. He began by creating square frame of stripped hackberry wood for the base. Interwoven on top of this were willow stalks he trekked down to the river to cut. He bent cedar branches for days around steel barrels in order to curve them for the arched top. He made hole-n-peg intersections to join saplings together. He used wood glue (his one modern allowance) and bindings to tie everything together sturdily. Joint Detail Then, when faced with how to create a fencing that was not metal; but not woven like the bottom either (needs to let light in and let people see the birds), he came up with this beautiful design using old-style baling twine (which we happen to have plenty of around). He worked for hours on getting the design right and tight to make it both functional and aesthetically beautiful. And he finally finished his cage this past week! ;)

So you can decide the contest winner. If I was wanting a cage -- surely I would prefer to own Steven's. However, mine does what it was designed to do - be functional for a farm auction. I think a rooster will look fine in mine. I think Steven is likely to get more people interested in his cage, than in the beautiful bird inside it.

We will see. The auction is at the end of the month.

(you can click on the photos to see them larger and in more detail)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Project List #1

This past weekend, our oldest female goat, Bobbie Sue (the only one that is named, as well) lost the set of twins she was carrying. A miscarriage about halfway through term, it appears. Although this loss was not nearly as hard on her (and us) as the lost of her triplets at full birth last February.

We really did not plan to have any kid goats this winter -- we wanted the young does to get older, and we don't like kidding in the cold of winter -- it is hard to get a survival rate. However, apparently our buck Jeffy got Bobbie Sue bred before we sold him in early November. It is somewhat of a relief, however, to not have to worry about baby goats in February, now. At least for this year. The other adult doe does not appear to be pregnant.

Steven wondered if she miscarried because we had them out the day before, shepherding them to a new place to eat, and the other doe spooked and took off at a dead run, which made all the others run after her. While the running probably was not good on Bobbie Sue, I doubt it alone caused the miscarriage.

Okay, I'm going to start trying to keep track of some of our projects here, just so I can get organized and feel a sense of accomplishment as we get them done. I'm going to break the list down into shorter sections, for "small victories." :)

This first list is items I would like to get done before spring arrives at the farm:
  1. Finish outhouse project

  2. Repair bathroom floor/toilet

  3. Begin the myriad of wood cutting we need done - mostly along the hedge rows
  4. Get the now-completed beehive set outside and ready for bees for spring

  5. Get electrical wiring moved so we can remove huge dead tree in backyard
  6. Begin tear-out and re-install of south fence; west corral

  7. Maintenance on mowers

  8. Cut out old pear tree

  9. Burn off garden perimeter

  10. Cut down trees along garden fence

  11. Burn off north pasture/orchard area (as we did last year)(partially done)

  12. Try to get my own bedroom organized/cleaned/sorted and compressed

  13. Begin starter seeds indoors

  14. Study more about converting house to wood heat; begin plans

  15. Finish the farm website

Well, that's enough to get me started. If I get too long of a list, I will get discouraged.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I was hoping to be able to soon post a farm project list like my friend MEL has done on her blog, but I don't appear to be organized yet enough this year to have that all written out. Although Steven and I did talk about many goals we have for the coming year.

However, I haven't updated in so long that I at least wanted to pop in here with a short post wishing you all a productive and blessed New Year. I hope to find more time to post updates in the future.